In August 1961 the Loyola Alumni Association and the Administration of Loyola College created the Loyola Medal.
The goal was to create a Canadian counterpart of the Laetare Medal which was established in 1883 by the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and is still in existence. This
prestigious gold medal was itself inspired by the Golden Rose award, an ancient papal honour which is bestowed on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent.
The Loyola Medal was to be awarded annually to a recipient who was "a man or a woman whose character, genius and philosophies have illustrated the ideals of the Catholic church, contributed to the arts and sciences of Canada, and enriched the heritage of humanity at large."
The Award Committee would be composed of:
- The Rector of Loyola College
- One other member of the Loyola College faculty
- The President of the Loyola Alumni Association
- One other member of the Loyola Alumni Association
- Three other appointees representing the English Catholic community
The medal itself would consist of a solid gold disc suspended from a gold bar bearing the inscription "Loyola Medal," and inscribed in a border around the disc would be the words (in Latin) "For Outstanding Catholic Leadership." The center design would be the coat of arms of Loyola College and on the reverse side the name of the recipient would be inscribed.
It was decided that the Loyola Medal designation would be used exclusively for this new award. All other medals which had previously been so named informally, were renamed, including the COTC College Medal, and the High School Medal.
The first award was in 1963 to Governor-General Georges P. Vanier, a Loyola graduate of 1906. The medal was awarded sporadically until 1979.
In 1974 Loyola College merged with Sir George Williams to form Concordia University. In 1989 an agreement was signed between Concordia University and the Loyola Alumni Association concerning the Loyola Medal. This agreement was formally approved by the Concordia University Board of Governors on December 20, 1989, and it provides the basis for the modified current frame of reference for the Loyola Medal:
- The medal is awarded every two years or less frequently.
- Recipients will be "outstanding citizens, as evidenced by their character and life philosophy, who have made a significant contribution to the Canadian community. They shall embody the ideals and the spirit which characterized Loyola College."
- The Nominating Committee is composed of:
- Three representatives of the Loyola Alumni Association
- Three representatives of Concordia University, the Executive Assistant to the Rector and two other persons appointed by the Rector
- The President of the Loyola Alumni Association who will chair the Committee
- The Nominating Committee establishes its own selection procedures and makes a final recommendation to the Graduation Ceremonies Committee of the Concordia University Board of Governors.
- The Board of Governors makes the final decision on the recipient of the Loyola Medal.
- The medals are supplied by the Loyola Alumni Association.
- The medal is a gold disc suspended from a gold bar, bearing the Loyola coat of arms and the inscription "insignia scriptu et regis gestis" (for oustanding leadership and achievement). The name of the recipient and the year of the award are inscribed on the reverse side of the medal.
- The Loyola Medal is presented at an event deemed apropriate by the Nominating
The Loyola Medal has been awarded to:
- 1963: Governor-General Georges P. Vanier
- 1967: Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger
- 1968: Jean Drapeau (Montréal Mayor)
- 1969: Arthur F. Mayne
- 1971: Rev. Bernard Lonergan, S.J.
- 1974: Thérèse F. Casgrain
- 1976: Dr. Hans Selye
- 1978: Dr. Jacques Genest
- 1979: Maureen Forrester
- 1991: Donald W. McNaughton
- 1993: Jean Vanier
- 1995: Jean Béliveau
- 1997: Oscar E Peterson
- 1999: L. Jacques Ménard
- 2002: Richard Renaud
- 2004: Dominic D'Alessandro
- 2006: Roméo Dallaire
- 2009: Roberta Bondar
- 2011: Rev. John E. (Jack) O’Brien, S.J.
- 2014: Clara Hughes
- 2017: James Orbsinki
- 2019: Samantha Nutt